Pope Emeritus Benedict relaxes as cardinals prepare for vote

March 1, 2013

(A man holds new stamps “Vacant Seat” in his shop next to the Vatican in Rome March 1, 2013.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

A relaxed and rested Pope Emeritus Benedict read messages from well-wishers and strolled in his retirement palace gardens on Friday as cardinals due to elect his successor planned pre-vote meetings for next week.

The 85-year-old former pope watched televised reports of his departure from the Vatican on Thursday evening, then slept soundly in the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo, where he will stay for about two months, a Vatican spokesman said.

“He slept very well. The atmosphere was very relaxed and peaceful,” Rev Federico Lombardi told journalists, relating what Benedict’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gaenswein had told him by telephone from the palace south of Rome.

Benedict brought compact discs of his favorite music and many books of theology, history and philosophy with him, Lombardi said, and would soon resume playing the piano nightly.

Back at the Vatican, the dean of the College of Cardinals officially invited all eligible “princes of the Church” to assemble in Rome to prepare and carry out the secretive conclave to choose the next leader of the world’s largest church.

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